Is Prof Kancha Ilaiah A Christian By Faith?

Professor Kancha Ilaiah is one of the well-recognised academic personality among non-academic circles of India, and that too in particularly in the South Indian Telugu region, for close to two decades for now. He has been in public life for more than 30 years as part of various activities like human rights issues, Naxalite movement, debates over caste-class articulations, etc. But, his prime focal venture upon the problems related to ‘caste’, from various vintages as a writer and verbal articulator made him acquire a sudden representative base among different sections of India and abroad too. The sections which recognised him concerning his articulations on ‘caste’ issues are also well divided in having their opinions either in support or in against of him.

One of the Prof Kancha Ilaiah’s work produced and published in the form of ‘Why I Am Not A Hindu?’ during the later part of the 1990’s decade made him acquire unprecedented popularity even among non-academic circles. This work attempted to theorise ‘Dalit-Bahujan’ ideological base for political emancipation and recognition. Though this volume’s content made him gain unprecedented popularity even among the academic circles; there were a few among academic circles who considered this volume’s articulation as incoherent. Among such academic critics, only one academician’s professional review of ‘Why I Am Not a Hindu’, is well received by certain quarters of the academic world. D R Nagaraj produced this professional critique, and titled it as ‘The Pathology of Sickle Swallowing’. This review is part of a D R Nagaraj’s volume ‘The Flaming Feet and Other Essays: The Dalit Movement in India’. In this professional academic examination, D R Nagaraj pointed out an incoherent way of looking at and theorising Dalits and Bahujan’s as a coherent section vis-a-vis other upper castes like Brahmins, Vysya’s, etc.

In due course of time, the criticism of D R Nagaraj and others who have been subscribing to the incoherent way of looking at Dalit-Bahujans’ as a homogenous section vis-a-vis against upper castes also started to gain currency. Towards this end, the atrocities committed by Bahujans’/OBC’s against Dalits in various forms got well reported and established!! Thus, the attempted way of Prof Kancha’s synthesised Dalit-Bahujan as a coherent section against the upper castes of India started to get debunked to some extent.

II

Meanwhile, due to widespread gained popularity on account of sensational ‘Why I Am Not A Hindu?’, Prof Kancha’s activism ventured into various other domains of mainstream society and polity. He became a leading recognisable face of national and international media, civil society organisations, human rights forums, etc. He writings started to circulate well in the public media sphere in the form of newspaper articles, in a few leading national English dailies for quite a sustained duration.

During this same phase in the Indian polity, the Hindutva political outfit Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was acquiring ascendence in various forms and started to successfully run a coalition government under the Prime Ministership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee. As a result, Prof Kancha begun to express his anti-Hindutva, anti-upper caste stands & modes of upper ranks exploitation, lower castes subordination and exploitation, etc. in the newspaper articles. This regular appearance of him in the mainstream media coupled with his consistent involved political activism in various forms made him a limelight personality.

The acquired fame of Prof Kancha, his produced and projected literature, arguments, rhetoric, etc. generated, nurtured, developed and spread anxieties among the upper castes and even among the Bahujan’s. These sections started to feel threatened and saw the rise of Dalit-Bahujan ideological orientation as a threat to their existence, domination and comfort in the mainstream Indian society. Thus, as an academic Prof Kancha Ilaiah with his regular writings in the mainstream media against Hindutva, upper castes, etc. started to create anti-Dalit Bahujan section, in a renewed fashion.

Same time, a few ranks, mostly, Dalits across India, especially in the South Indian Telugu region began to embrace his verbal and vocal articulations and writings!! All this indicated that within the constructed and projected section of ‘Dalit-Bahujan’, only a significant section of Dalits started to embrace openly and widely Prof Kancha Ilaiah’s ideological orientation. And, a particular part of mainstream Indian society also commenced to perceive him as a ‘Dalit Ideologue’ only, by keeping aside his Bahujan/OBC leanings.

On the other side, the Bahujan’s/OBC’s proven to be foot soldiers of the Hindutva identity, by becoming an influential vote bank; and as a ferociously wishing sect to see Hinduness in various walks of life and society.

III

Form this entire vantage point onwards; how Prof Kancha developed an image of pro-Christian should be ascertained?!

One of the prime focal centres of arguments in Prof Kancha’s writings is; that the Hindu religion is a ‘spiritual fascist’ sect. Here Hindu religion was seen and shown as a Brahmanical disorder by him and projected in the same manner in his writings. Thus, in his opinion, the Indian society over the years is infected with Brahmanical spiritual disturbances, and the large chunks of Indian masses like the upper castes, OBC’s, etc. are under Brahminical spiritual fascist orientation, without their knowledge and escape possibilities. Having observed so, Prof Kancha started to compare various Hindu / Brahmanical Gods and Goddess on one side. And, on the other hand, he also began to examine Hindu Gods and Goddess with different Christian and Islamic spiritual sect.

Towards this end of comparison, he, on various points of occasions expressed an inclination towards Christian faith and belief, as a liberating, egalitarian and humanitarian force. All this indicated that he had been a vocal opponent of Hindu/Brahmanical religious order. But, saw conversion to other religions like Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, etc. as a source of liberation. Unusually, he sounded as much inspired towards Christianity, its values, achievements, etc.

In this direction, he even maintained a few good contacts and relations with quite a few non-Hindu / non-Hindutva / non-Brahmanical leaders and organisations. On the other side, a few Hindu / Brahmanical groups and leaders; started to report and accuse that a few Christian leaders and institutions are well interested in the articulations of Prof Kancha Ilaiah, to encourage religious conversions from Hinduism to Christianity!!

Thus, the open vocal position and articulations of Prof Kancha Ilaiah against Hinduism / Brahmanical religious order came as an handi source to the Hindutva forces who have been attempting to consolidate their base by showing the religious minorities as a threat to the national security, Hindus unity and prosperity.

Towards this end, at times, a few Hindu organisations / Hindutva sections, etc. even accused Prof Kancha Ilaiah as an agent of Christian religious conversion plans and having hand-in-glove relations with foreign Christian conversion forces. By making such politically motivated statements and propaganda, various Hindutva sects, organisations and individuals have been focusing on creating a panic among the more extensive Hindu section and wishing to consolidate vote bank for electoral gains, in favour of BJP.

But, on the whole, the fact remains entirely different; that Prof Kancha Ilaiah never converted to Christianity or any other non-Hindu religious orders. And, he never expressed his desire and inclination to turn from Hinduism to other religions like Christianity.

IV

A few Academicians, progressive civil society organisations and activists, have viewed, regarded and considered Prof Ilaiah’s writings and speeches as a mere initial expression of comparison of Hindu / Bhramanical order with other foreign religious laws like the Christianity / Islam, etc. And, such writings and speeches of feelings, in a few academicians view, lacked scholarly depth, from various vintages.

Towards this end, the Bahujan Students’ Front (BSF), University of Hyderabad organised a debate between Prof Kancha Iliah and Prof Arun Kumar Patnaik on August 06, 2015 stands vindication. This discussion got hosted in the wake of a controversy racked by the Hindutva forces over one of the Prof Kancha Ilaiah’s article in a Telugu newspaper daily, Andhra Jyothi. This debate’s shrouded titled was marked as  ‘Future of Social Science and Perils of Hindutva’.

In this debate, Prof Arun Kumar Patnaik found fault with Prof Kancha Ilaiah’s line of synthesis against Hindu religion, Hindu Gods, Hindu Goddess, Hindu mythology, etc. Prof Arun felt that Prof Kancha Ilaiah had been failing to recognise dual and multiple versions and meanings in Hindu mythology and other religions like Christianity. Having failed so, in the opinion of Prof Arun; Prof Kancha Ilaiah lacked comprehensive reading and understanding of various texts, dimensions and discourses. All this indicated in the view of Prof Arun; that Prof Kancha Ilaiah have had inclined towards a linear path of analysis, which is wrong in rational discourse. But, in this debate, Prof Kancha justified his line of synthesis, arguments and activism from ‘personal experience perspective’.

V

On the whole, the Hindutva forces activism and accused propaganda against Prof Kancha Ilaiah as an anti-national, threat to the Indian national Hindu identity, etc. are well received and believed at times, due to a sporadic rise of specific sensational issues.

Towards this end, Swami Paripoornananda’s accusation of Prof Kancha Ilaiah as a foreign Christian forces agent, be seen. Such an allegation of Swami Paripoornanada against Prof Kancha Ilaiah appears; as believed by a large proportion of the population. Swami Paripoornananda made this charge against Prof Kancha Ilaiah in the wake of racked controversy by the Telugu Vyasya community over Prof Kancha Ilaiah’s book against Vyasy’s as ‘Social Smuggler community’.

Sadly, as per many observations; Prof Kancha Ilaiah, though not a convert to Christianity and not having such a wish to convert to Christianity as of now, is failing to negate and debunk such compelling allegations of the Hindutva forces!!

Note: It would be better if one can read this article after going through extensive Hindutva sections propagation and accusations against Prof Kanha Ilaiah as a Christian conversion forces agent or concerning such allegations. 

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University of Hyderabad 2016-2017 Students’ Union Election Contestation

A few details pertaining to the previous academic year 2016-17 Students’ Union election at the University of Hyderabad is as follows;

ABVP OBCA Whole Panel

ABVP OBCA President and VP

ABVP - OBCA

ABVP OBCA GS and JS

ABVP OBCA Cultural and Sports Secretaries

GS CASH

UFSJ for 2016-2017

Ultimately, this election witnessed the fruitful and victorious emergence of the United Front for Social Justice (UFSJ). UFSJ comprised various student organisations like Students’ Federation of India (SFI), Dalit Students’ Union (DSU), Tribal Students’ Forum (TSF), Bahujan Students’ Front (BSF), Telangana Vidyarthi Vedika (TVV) as electoral alliance partners. Ambedkar Students’ Association (ASA) contested as a separate panel entity; though there were high range expectations that ASA will become part of UFSJ. The ASA’s contestation as an independent electoral group of a body made many disappointed, and some even accused ASA by attributing evil motives in various forms.

This election took place after the Univerity of Hyderabad witnessed an unprecedented global attention in the wake of the unfortunate suicide of one of the Ph.D., Research Scholars, i.e., Mr Rohit Vemula. The death of Rohit Vemula attracted global attention towards projected and alleged caste discrimination on the University of Hyderabad campus in particular and on other academic institutions across India, in general.

This 2016-17 election also witnessed an unprecedented focus. One of the focal centres of concern was; why a united student body, which led a glorious revolutionary democratic battle against the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Vice Chancellor Prof Podile Appa Rao, etc. got disunited and contested elections? A large chunk of the University student body, comprised almost all the student organisations, expect ABVP, came under two platforms: ‘Justice for Rohit Vemula & Joint Action Committee For Social Justice’ and led a massive revolutionary democratic battle against the groups mentioned above and Vice Chancellor. This large-scale student organisations activism was expected to retain and sustain during this electoral contestation in the form of electoral alliance. But, such expectations, in reality, saw disunity in electoral collaboration.

By the time of the 2016-17 election, these two platforms; ‘Justice for Rohit Vemula & Joint Action Committee for Social Justice’ activities got declined. Critics observed that the reduction of these two platforms activities had to do something with the ensuring and forthcoming elections for that academic year. All this indicates: politics, though openly not acknowledged, is well mastered and practised by various student organisations and sections. And, it took some time for others to realise realities, especially for those whose expectations were very high after witnessing high-level student activism in the form of Justice for Rohit Vemula, etc.

Allegations and counter allegations also went-on high during this electoral process and immediately after completion of the electoral process also this tempo continued. It was highly alleged that ASA was the prime responsible student organisation for betraying the spirit of possible electoral collusion of all the participated teams in the Justice for Rohit Vemula movement. But, ASA justified and propagated that it fought as an independent electoral body since it got betrayed by other co-students organisations (ASA allegations over disappointment should be ascertained and seen separately)!! But, such charge and propagation of ASA got negated by other co-student organisations, which colluded under UFSJ for electoral gain. Among all the colluded partners under UFSJ; BSF took the lead and criticised ASA, as ASA possessed evil motive, for failing to join UFSJ and making unjustified allegations against UFSJ partners. BSF accused ASA has had hand-in-glove with the Indian National Congress (INC) and National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) for not joining the alliance under UFSJ. While BSF expressed such opinion publicly, some others too expressed such opinion in informal ways.

All this indicates that the University range elections, at the University of Hyderabad level, are getting entwined with the mainstream political atmosphere, which was not the case until a few years ago. In fact, in the past, almost all the Student organisations desired to have wider exposure to their political activism in the mainstream media with public attention and concern. Such wish of them started to fruity slowly over the past few years in various respects. The University of Hyderabad’s, unseen alumni role is also prominent, in getting this University into the public limelight over the past few years.

National Seminar on ‘Politics of Inclusion: Empowering Minorities in India’

The Department of Political Science, University of Hyderabad organized and hosted a National Seminar on ‘Politics of Inclusion: Empowering Minorities in India,’ during September 5-6, 2017.

On the sidelines of this National Seminar, I had presented a Paper entitled ‘Political Strategies and Deliberations over Muslim Backward Classes Inclusion: The Distinctive Case in Andhra Pradesh & Telangana.’ The abstract of this Paper is as follows;

Abstract

The Concepet Note of this National Seminar is as follows;

Politics of Inclusion

The tentative Programme Schedule of this National Seminar is as follows;

Programme schedule of Minority Politics

Mohammed Ghouse, Post Doctoral Fellow, Department of Political Science, University of Hyderabad was the prime source behind organising this National Seminar. But, technically the credit was acknowledged under Sri Chandrasekhara Rao as Convenor of this National Seminar.

 

First Phase of Innings: Acting and Political Dynamics of Chiranjeevi & Pawan Kalyan

In the South Indian Tollywood, Chiranjeevi and Pawan Kalyan have captured a unique place as successful lead actors. Though these two leading actors also happen to be biological brothers; yet there exists a considerable age gap between them, at a range of almost close to 17 years or so. First, Chiranjeevi ventured into the Tollywood as a trained actor from Chennai, where Tollywood headquartered in those days. Chiranjeevi chose to migrate from his native East Godavari district in the Coastal Andhra Pradesh to Tamil Nadu’s capital city Madras (later-on renamed as Chennai), as part of pursuing his well aspired and cherished career in the Tollywood. As per his admired ambition, he was able to become a successful and established lead actor in Tollywood within a short duration and was able to continue the same position, since then. In his initial years of professional career, Chiranjeevi used to be very busy as an actor by almost simultaneously acting in various films. Somehow, in due course of Chiranjeevi’s professional career, his other family members also started to venture into this field, especially his two brothers; one among them happens to be younger brother Pawan Kalyan.

It was noted on a few platforms that Chiranjeevi has nurtured the career of Pawan Kalyan to some extent by providing him training in acting at a professional trainer at Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh. Thus, both Chiranjeevi and Pawan Kalyan entered Tollywood as trained actors and were successful also in due course of time. When seen from the educational background; Chiranjeevi happens to be little more educated than his younger brother Pawan Kalyan.

Pawan Kalyan, in a certain observable sense, entred Tollywood at a time when Chiranjeevi’s film career started to witness a slow motion, during the end of 1990’s. Most film and lay observers opined that Pawan Kalyan was fortunate enough to have continuous hit movies. In fact, in Pawan Kalyan’s professional career in Tollywood, so far, he has very less unsuccessful films. The parameter chosen to consider this success of Pawan Kalyan’s films stood at ‘less loss to the movies produced and released.’ Thus, almost all the producers must have been glad to have produced films under his lead character roles.

And, on other parameters, when judged, these two brothers, over the years, were able to sustain their base, though at times the film sector was under intense crisis. Not only these two brothers, but even their other family and extended family members in this Tollywood industry were also able to sustain and grow in various forms and folds. In addition to this observation, critics also noted that most of the Kapu caste actors, to which these two brothers belong to, also ventured into this sector and grown. And, in this direction, it was prominently observed and noted that Chiranjeevi’s acquired prominent position in Tollywood helped a lot in this sequential end’s realization. Thus, Chiranjeevi in a certain sense has a respectable and acknowledged honor among various sections of Tollywood, and one such section also happens to emanate from his caste, i.e., Kapu. In fact, a few critics well noted that the successful emergence of Chiranjeevi in the Tollywood had put an end to the sole domination of Kamma community, which enjoyed till then. Thus, inherently caste dynamics were present in this entire Tollywood industry for long.

II

The political entry of Chiranjeevi, primarily, was seen, by a few sections of society, as an extended desire to bring success to the Kapu caste, from his side, through newly floated political party ‘Praja Rajyam Party’ (PRP) in 2008. Both the family and extended family members of Chiranjeevi actively stood beside him during this phase of PRP election campaign. In the initial phase of this PRP electoral campaign activity, much crowd attended meetings. This crowding pulling capacity of PRP and Chiranjeevi was analyzed in various modes. But, in due course of time, PRP’s prospectus seemed to have diminished considerably. Ultimately, when PRP contested 2009 Lok Sabha and Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly elections; the result was heartening than expected. At last, on the whole, it was recognized and acknowledged that the PRP, on the whole, was able to garner only around 18% vote share or so. And, this 18% vote share was attributed to have emanated from the Kapu community.

Among all the family and extended family members, Chiranjeevi’s younger brother Pawan Kalyan got highlighted in the mainstream media due to various reasons; like due to opposition party’s satirically posed serious comments and allegations over his personal life and more. Pawan Kalyan, PRP and Chiranjeevi family and extended family, in certain sense took corrective measures towards this end. Thus, this indicates that the opposition has succeeded in its satirically posed serious observations and allegations. From this stage onwards, Pawan Kalyan’s personal and professional integration started to get exposed, prominently. And, Pawan Kalyan was also seen drastically quite the opposite from his other family members.

In due course of time, Chiranjeevi has realized that he was unable to run the PRP. As a result, PRP was merged into the Indian National Congress (INC).

The merger of PRP with INC brought to the forefront various political and social commentary on various platforms. One of the major critical allegation was that Chiranjeevi had sold his PRP, in the form of merger with INC, due to a drastically changed political situation in the Andhra Pradesh political scene. A few sections, which vote and patronaged PRP and Chiranjeevi’s leadership got disappointed and ventilated their anger openly, in various modes like at times in a harsh manner too.

As a result of PRP’s merger with INC, Chiranjeevi was offered Rajya Sabha membership by the INC and got inducted into the Union Council of Ministers headed by Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister. This step also brought some negative response from a few sections of society, that only Chiranjeevi was able to benefit by launching and merging PRP with INC, politically; since his political career continued under INC.

One of the most disappointed section over the failure of PRP and subsequent merger with INC was Kapu community, as per critics observations.

On the whole, with the merger of PRP with INC, the first active phase of Chiranjeevi and Pawan Kalyan’s political career got a curtain closed.

But, both of them are still visible as film actors and leading politicians in the next continued second phase under INC and Jana Sena Party (JSP). JSP was established by Pawan Kalyan in the year 2014, taking into consideration scheduled elections to the Lok Sabha and Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly. Though JSP failed to contest in this election, it extended full-fledged active support to the TDP-BJP alliance. This second post-2014 election innings of these two brother’s needs another exploration.

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Annotated Critical Deliberation on the ‘Annihilation of Caste’

‘Annihilation of Caste’, is one of the most popular treatise in India dealing with the ways and forms of persistence of Caste and modes of ‘Annihilating’ it, penned by Dr B R Ambedkar. Though Ambedkar authored and published many a works related to caste, etc; among all his writings, the ‘Annihilation of Caste’ has a unique position among his admirers and followers , primarily. As a result, his admirers and followers published and republished this ‘Annihilation of Caste’ document in various forms and modes over the years, across India in various vernaculars modes too.

The present review deals with the Navayana Publishing House, New Delhi published work in 2014. Navayana Publishing House in 2014 brought out an ‘Annotated Critical Edition on the Annihilation of Caste’. In this edition, the Editor S Anand provided critical Annotations to the original text of Ambedkar’s ‘Annihilation of Caste’. And, a lengthy Introduction was also provided by Arundhati Roy, one of the well known Indian English writers. This Introduction was entitled as ‘The Doctor and the Saint’.

I had composed a Review of this Book in the The Criterion: An International Journal in English‘, as part of this Journals April, 2017 issue. ‘The Criterion’ is an University Grants Commission (UGC) recognized journal. This Review can be found on the following source.

Annotated Critical Deliberation on the ‘Annihilation of Caste’

Previously, a discussion on this Book was held at the University of Hyderabad in 2014.  And, I had provided a report on that discussion in 2014 itself. Please refer the following URL source for that same discussion, if interested.

Arundhati Roy tilts towards Gandhi: Prof. K. Y. Ratnam

A Critique of ‘Hind Swaraj’ and ‘Hindutva’

The Journal of Politics & Governance (ISSN: 2278-473X) published a Book Review, which was based on U R Anantamurthy’s ‘Hindutva or Hind Swaraj’, as part of its Volume 6, No 1, March 2017 edition. This Review was composed by me and was titled as ‘A Critique of ‘Hind Swaraj’ and ‘Hindutva’. This full-fledged Review can be found in the below source.

A Critique of Hind Swaraj and Hindutva

The Journal of Politics & Governance is an Open Access source.